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ALTERNATIVE SOUNDS FARE WELL IN 2 ALBUMS

Following are reviews of recent post new-wave rock and gothic rock recordings.

SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES; "The Rapture" (Geffen Records). * * 1/2

Gothic undertones, a little punk, psychedelia and lots of ethereal vocals once more come together for Siouxsie & the Banshees. This time, however, "The Rapture" features a more mature sound.

Sophisticated arrangements add a new dimension to the band's moveable rhythms, and Siouxsie Sioux's vocals can still charm the hood off a cobra.

Opening with the provocative Latin shuffle of "O Baby," the album immediately feels different from past efforts. "Tearing Apart" continues the album's spiraling momentum. The band returns to the gothic with the vampirish track "Sick Child," an essay on loneliness.

Remaining cuts, such as "Falling Down," bring to mind the late '70s new wave craze, while "Forever" dips into the surreal, as does the album's haunting title cut.

While this isn't one of the band's best, it certainly is the most ambitious. And that's a good sign for the future.

VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Cleopatra: Enchantments" (Cleopatra/Caroline). * * 1/2

Is there life beyond Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine?

Sure is. This compilation proves it, zeroing in on the dark underworld sound of gothic/industrial music. Taking a mix of well-known and new bands, the album assembles 16 new tracks and is guaranteed to perk some life into the stiffest of the undead.

Canada's Digital Poodle opens the album with its Skinny Puppy sound of "Head of Lenin," while fellow Canadians Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber - playing under the names Noise Unit and Frontline Assembly - offer the bouncing "Kick to Kill" and "Immobilized."

One of the best-known bands here is the Electric Hellfire Club. Mixing carnivalesque keyboards with a dark, spiraling bassline, the Club emits a menacing feel during "Night of the Buck Knives."

Another better-known artist, Leather Strip, closes the album and displays masochistic overtones during the gasping arrangement of "Torture (A Suicide Note)."

Other performers highlighted include Die Krupps ("Metal Machine Music"), Penal Colony ("Blue Nine"), Laibach ("Die Liebe"), Blok 57, featuring Klink and Dive's Dirk Ivens ("Burn Baby Burn"), and Psychopomps ("Hate").

While fans of the genre will relish the brutal offerings, even the untrained ear will notice that many of these works sound too much alike, demonstrating that 77 minutes of this gothic/industrial sound can become a bit monotonous.